UAE disputes Qatar’s lawsuit at top UN court

UAE representatives accused Doha of supporting "dangerous extremist groups in countries such as Libya, Syria and Somalia."
Thursday 28/06/2018
Out of options. Men wait for a bus in front of a building with the poster of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha. (AP)
Out of options. Men wait for a bus in front of a building with the poster of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Doha. (AP)

LONDON - The United Arab Emirates disputed on June 28 Qatar's discrimination lawsuit before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying there was evidence of Doha's "support of terrorism, its interference in the affairs of its neighbours and its distribution of hate speech."

The UAE's defence maintained that Qatar’s claims of discrimination against it were without merit, and that Qatari citizens continued to live and be treated respectfully in the UAE.  

Qatar filed a lawsuit against the UAE early June, accusing the country of violating its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and fostering an “environment of hate” against its citizens.

The charge came amid a bitter, year-long dispute between Doha and its neighbours, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Those three countries and Egypt have boycotted Qatar  since June 2017 over its alleged support of terror and ties with Iran.

On Thursday, the UAE’s representatives at the ICJ cited Qatar’s support for "a number of terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State (ISIS), the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Hamas” as reason for the boycott.

The UAE representatives also accused Doha of supporting "dangerous extremist groups in countries such as Libya, Syria and Somalia."

“Our government has asked Qatar time-and-again to seize this conduct,” UAE Ambassador to the Netherlands Saeed al-Nowais told the ICJ. “Although Qatar repeatedly committed to do so, it has failed to live up to its commitments.”

He also countered Doha’s claims that the UAE had instituted a “series of broad discriminatory measures” against Qataris, including expelling them, halting their access to health care and criminalising expressions of sympathy with Qatar.

The UAE “completely rejects the allegations, all of which are without any merit or basis,” al-Nowais said, adding that “Qatar has put forward no credible evidence to substantiate any of these claims,” which consist “only of anecdotal and unverified statements.”

He emphasised that the UAE’s policy was targeted at Qatar’s government, not its people, who could receive permission to enter and leave the state through the Interior Ministry.

"We recognise that the Qatari people have no responsibility for the dangerous policies of their government, which is why the UAE’s measures against the Qatari government are carefully designed to have the least possible impact on ordinary people," al-Nowais added.

Since the crisis began, there have been "8,000 occasions" of Qataris entering or leaving the UAE, al-Nuwais said.

Data presented by the the UAE to the top UN court also showed that 2,194 Qataris were living in the UAE as of mid-June which is similar to the number that were living there a year ago.

In addition, the UAE showed data on bank remittances indicating that Qatari citizens continue to transfer money between the two countries.

The UAE also provided data they said indicated that Qatari citizens are able to freely access their assets and investments in the UAE, including copies of commercial licenses issued by UAE authorities to Qatari companies during the crisis, and presented evidence they said indicated Qataris living in the UAE have access to healthcare and are covered under the country’s healthcare system.